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Heavy Turnout, Few Problems Reported at Polls

by ARLnow.com November 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm 8,343 108 Comments

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Huge lines, some impatient voters and a couple of election machine glitches were reported today around Arlington, but election officials say there have been no major problems hampering voting.

Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg acknowledged to ARLnow.com this afternoon that there have been long lines at many of the county’s 52 polling places — some longer than 2.5 hours, according to those responding to our earlier poll. Some voters grew impatient, she said, but no one got out of control to the extent that they caused a disturbance.

“The lines are long and people aren’t happy about having to wait,” said Lindberg.

Several electronic voting machines froze and had to be reset, according to Lindberg. At least one had to be replaced with one of several backup voting machines kept in reserve by election officials.

(Arlington County officials said they have “far more voting machines than required by state law for today’s election.” The county’s voting precincts have one machine for every 220 registered voters, according to county spokeswoman Mary Curtius, compared to the minimum of one machine per 750 voters required under Virginia law.)

Unlike in elections past, Lindberg was unable to reveal specific voter turnout figures. She did predict, however, that today’s turnout may break records in Arlington in terms of the number of voters casting ballots.

Twice today paramedics were dispatched to polling stations in Arlington for a report of a voter suffering medical problems. One such dispatch was for an elderly voter who looked like he or she was about to faint. The other was for a voter who reportedly collapsed at a polling place in Pentagon City (see photos, below).

Lindberg said she was unaware of any medical emergencies at polling places, but said that election workers are trained to provide chairs for elderly voters, as needed.


  • CEW

    I can confirm long lines. Arrived at polling place in Arlington at 6:15 a.m. and waited until 7:30 a.m. to vote. Didn’t expect that. But good sign for democracy!

    • Arlington, Northside


    • CSEM

      Arrived 10:00 am to a long line, and was out of there by 11:00. All cordial, quiet and very easy. Well done Clarendon!

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Walter Reed Comm Center

    • John Fontain

      Riverhouse Pentagon City – The lines ain’t too shabby, but they don’t build em like they used to.

    • Jules

      There were only 5 electronic voting stations at Walter Reed. The claim that VA had more than required by law is silly. We waited for 3 hours to vote. If they had 10 machines my time would have been cut in half. One could argue that the excessive wait caused by few e-voting stations is equal to voter suppression.

      • Lori

        I agree with Jules. Only 5 machines at Walter Reed was ridiculous. I also waited for 3 hours and went at 10am thinking it would be light.

      • speonjosh

        Or one could just suck it up and vote.

        Not sure why the claim is “silly.” It’s either true or it isn’t.

        • Jules

          It’s silly because they are patting themselves on the back for something that clearly failed. I don’t mind waiting in line for 3 hours. I was proud to do so. I became angry when I saw how seemingly unprepared Arlington County was for the large turnout of voters.

          • speonjosh

            Well, I guess I will admit that I waited in the longest line I can remember waiting in, but are we really sure that things were different this time around? ARLNow didn’t exist in 2008 for us to swap updates and answer polls, etc. But wouldn’t the story have been the same back then?

          • Jules

            You know Speonjosh, I don’t recall staying in line for 3 hours in 2008. It was a long line and I don’t recall how many e-voting stations they had. It would be interesting to see (assuming “the google” can find it) the information from 2008. I’m glad we broke voting records. I’m glad people weren’t discouraged by the lines and left. I’m glad the sun was shining b/c I’m sure people would not have stood outside for an hour before entering WR.

      • Paul

        There were four machines at Arlington Forest, and the low number of machines was compounded by the fact that only a single poll worker could initialize the machines for the next voter. Seems like they were not quite ready for prime time, or expected early voting to relieve the crush at the polling places.

      • something better?

        Jules, your strategy was doomed from the start. A bit like chusing to travel on the Beltway at 5:30 pm because that’s when everyone else does it.

        We have an 11-hour window to do the deed today, plus days upon days to get it over with earlier than today. Don’t get angry at the world for your lack of planning or imagination.

        Arlingtonians are a spoiled lot.

        • Jules

          I could be snarky and say something like learn how to spell choosing. But I won’t. I will say, I didn’t have all day to vote. I had the morning. I’m glad you have a job that allows you to take election day off. I do not. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m also not mad at the world for my lack of planning. I’m mad that the county didn’t plan. It’s THEIR responsibility. They are the ones throwing the party – I’m just attending. I’m proud to vote. I love this country. I am delighted to see so many people stepping up to fulfill their civic duty. I actually didn’t even mind standing in line. I made new friends and visited with many neighbors. I’m not angry at the world. I am upset with the County and I think that’s fair to say.

          • something better?

            Arlington had 84% turnout. It was a festival. As for me, I worked all day, after voting early a couple weeks ago. Smugness is my chusing, as is my spelling on the InterWebs.

      • IAmRickJames

        Concur – line at Walter Reed was a non-starter.
        Especially with children.

        Must be on the wrong side of Rt. 50.

    • Liz

      1.5 hrs or so when I got in line at 3pm, now much longer I’m afraid

    • AV Dweller

      I arrived at the Walter Reed Rec Center 10:45 and did not get out until 1:15. Five electronic voting stations (and I believe four seats for paper ballots) were not enough for the crowds. Some who came out ahead were in line for three full hours. Many elderly voters and parents with children in arms were not notified of their other voting options by polling staff until they had already been in line for more than an hour and a half. I passed only one drinking fountain while in line and seats were available in only one of the rooms/halls that we were funneled through. There was a lot of talk about how lines were significantly worse than in previous years and it seems that something was not right in terms of the number of people assigned this location.

      • AnotherMark

        I went at 2PM and was in and out in less than 20 minutes. They had six machines and offered the option of a paper ballot for which there was no wait.

    • vtnative

      Took me 2 hours to vote at Walter Reed this afternoon. Very poor set up.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: RiverHouse Pentagon City

    • John Fontain

      Glebe Elementary lines aren’t as long as they were when they were longer. That’s a relief!

      • Quoth the Raven

        You aren’t following LolaMINI’s structured response format!!!!

    • HfromArlington

      4 hour wait time this morning. Arrived at 9, voted at 1. The site staff (voting staff and apt complex staff) were friendly and helpful – passing around water and snacks. In general, there was a sense of camaraderie and patriotism. I <3 Election Day!

    • Laura

      The lines at Riverhouse were long (I waited three hours to vote), but the staff was great. Someone walked up and down the line several times while I was there passing out fruit, granola bars and candy to anyone who wanted it. The wait wasn’t good, but it was made infinitely better by the staff.

    • alex

      3 hour wait for me at Riverhouse (7a -10a)
      3 hour wait for my wife (2p – 5p)
      Voter throughput while I was there was about 100 voters per hour (based on my position on line).

      How many people registered to vote in this precinct?
      Are the machines proportionally distributed?

  • MikeinARL

    Perhaps is just comes from someone who stood in line for over an hour, but…IF THEY USED THE RESERVED BACKUP MACHINES WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE FOR 1-3 HOURS!!!

    thank you.

    • Arlington, Northside

      They would not be able to serve as backup/reserves then.

      • craig

        why can’t the paper ballots be backups. Seems simple enough to me.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Arlington Central Library

    • John Fontain

      Thanks for doing this. The lines at Key Elementary were ok, but I’ve seen better. Do we stand in line or on lines? I guess that depends on where you are from.

      • speonjosh

        in line

        (and, while we’re at it – you can reach me at 555-1212, not ON 555-1212….)

        • John Fontain

          I agree on both counts.

    • Brad

      Central Library: I went at 11 AM and had to wait for 2 hours. But by the time I left the line looked like a manageable 20 minutes.

      • Brad

        I should add that the 2 hour marked seemed to be stretched to the end of the parking lots, wrapped around to the far side of the tennis courts.

    • b-money

      Got there around 2 – was there for about 30 minutes

    • D.King

      I arrived around 6:45/6:50 and was out by about 9:30. Long line moved at a decent clip, real bottleneck was that there were only 2 people checking folks in

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Key Elementary

    • Joe

      Got in line at 7:05AM, out by 9:05AM.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Glebe Elementary

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Crystal Plaza

    • arlingtonrap

      I arrived at Crystal Plaza at 1:00 p.m. It was a two hour wait, walked out of there at 3:00. But the polling staff were very nice–were giving out water, chips and other assorted junk food to those standing in line.

      • arlingtonrap

        To give credit where credit is due, the folks giving out food likely were the apartment building’s staff.

      • Patrick Mckiernan

        Arrived at Crystal Plaza just after 8 a.m. and waited a little over 3 hours.

    • Jeff

      3 hours, 20 minutes this morning. Got there at 8:30, left at 11:50.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center

    • J.R.

      2 hours 20 minutes
      In at 8am

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Aurora Hills

    • WeiQiang

      50 people out the door at 1610 local time. I suppose that’s about another 30 inside.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: GMU

    • Deneen

      I only had a 30 minute wait, but I was there when the doors opened at 6 this morning.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Madison Activity Center

    • Arlingtoon

      I showed up at 5:55 a.m. to a pretty massive traffic jam and nowhere to park. Went back home to shower and get ready for work; then stopped off on my way into the office at 7:40. There was a long line, that thankfully (given the temperature) wound around inside the building. It took me an hour to get to the front of the line; vote, and get out the front door.

      One saving grace was that traffic was mercifully light, so I wasn’t all that late getting to work.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Drew Elementary

    • thegreater

      1.5 hours exactly starting at 10:50 and leaving at 12:20. Line was exact same size when I left as when I got there.

  • John Fontain

    Reply here for updates on lines at the following Place: Taco Bell on Rt. 29.

    • LolaMINI

      I’m trying to be helpful for afternoon voters.

      • John Fontain

        And I appreciate that. I’m trying to be helpful for people looking for Fourth Meal.

        • speonjosh

          Your sudden comic touch is definitely spinning my head a little bit.

          • John Fontain

            Prepare to be amazed!

    • Arlington Cat

      Reply here for updates on lines at the following Place: Weenie Beanie, Shirlington.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Patrick Henry School

    • LolaMINI

      I voted this morning, but my husband just called and said he was in and out in 30 minutes about an hour ago.

      • AIH

        My husband and I got in line at 4:10 and were done at 5pm. The line was much shorter than when I passed the polling place on my way to work this morning.

    • ML

      Arrived at 6:50am, voted at 8:30. Compared to what this means, it’s a small price to pay to exercise my duty as a citizen. Some people have to wait their entire lives to vote; I happily stood for an hour and a half.

      • John Fontain

        Thanks for providing this timely update.

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Clarendon Education Center

    • Arlvoter

      Voted @4:30 and the line was around 50 people long, took about 20 minutes

  • LolaMINI

    Reply here for updates on the following Polling Place: Lyon Village

  • Tabby_TwoTone

    Oh FFS.

    • huh


      • speonjosh

        I think it’s profane….

  • Swag

    Reply here for updates on the preceding updates.

    • John Fontain

      I heard the updates are now dated.

      • Lord Voldemort

        What is the latest update on the updates regarding any updates?

        • John Fontain

          You’re dating yourself with a comment like that. Get with the times!

        • DCBuff

          You don’t seem like a guy that would have trouble conjuring up a date.

          • speonjosh

            Over / under for updates in this thread: 116
            Current number of people in line at Patrick Henry Elementary: 59
            Additional chalupas consumed at Taco Bell this evening over the number that would have been consumed: at least 1

        • Swag

          Stand by… updating…

  • Karen

    “election workers are trained to provide chairs for elderly voters, as needed.” God forbid you should need something more than a chair. lol!

    • Arlingtoon

      I laughed at that too. How many times did they have to train for this before they got it right?!

  • sarlington

    lines are still long at walter reed. bring some of those boothes here. got here at 3pm amd still waiting. send chocolate.

  • pdarlva

    I waited for an hour after arriving a little before 6 am. What I wondered is why there weren’t more spaces for paper ballots. There were 5-6 at Patrick Henry. You could really vote quickly if you had more space for people to fill out the paper ballots. 1-2 more tables, no lines.

    • Ren

      I completely agree. What am I missing? When I finally made it to vote at Walter Reed after 3 hours last night, I was surprised to hear that electronic was faster than paper. It’s a gymnasium. I get that the voting machines with their klugey GUI are a fixed constraint at that point but it seems like they could have found faster ID checkers and more room to accomodate paper ballot voting.

  • Arlingtonian

    40 minutes around 10:30 at Swanson MS.
    2-3 hours? Big deal. Small inconvenience compared to the conditions our military endures.

    • speonjosh


      Someone didn’t read the NYTimes op-ed piece yesterday.

  • Lucy

    Took me about 1.5 hrs and that did NOT make me happy. I went at 6 am first and went to work without voting since the line was so long. Then, I went back at 3 pm… not during lunch, not before or after work. There were at least 80 people outside waiting when I arrived and 200 inside. The worst part is that it is really tough on the body. There were only 5 machines and paper voting. I was ready to scream.

    • Suzy


    • Ren

      I sympathize – my path during the day was much like yours. Glad it’s all done, but congrats to all that voted!

  • WestoverNative

    If you have ever waited in line for phones (or any Apple product for that matter), toys, tickets, games, Black Friday deals, cupcakes, etc. you can wait in line to vote!

    • Mick

      Try telling that to poorer people, those on a hourly wage, the infirm or those with very tight job schedules.

      What’s an inconvenience to upper middle class citizens may be a prohibitive burden to others, poorer people in particular.

      Multiply this across the nation and it doesn’t look pretty.

  • BettyBoop

    I just want to put out “there” that perhaps a reason why some precincts may have longer/shorter lines than others is NOT just that the number of voters per percinct may vary BUT ALSO some precincts may have benefitted from more voters in their precinct voting early, hence fewer voters to line up today. Just a thought. VOTE.

    • Umm

      One can vote absentee in Virginia.. but there isn’t a provision for early voting without an excuse. We really need early voting though! This one-day approach makes a lot less sense.

  • aroc

    Anyone know what the line at the Central Library is like right now?

    • speonjosh

      No, right now!

      • speonjosh

        What about now?

        • aroc

          You’re hilarious.

          • John Fontain


  • isabel

    I voted at Nottingham at 1:30pm was there maybe 10mins.

  • Mick

    Having a single election day is outdated. Should be three days at least, perhaps the first Sat, Sun, and Monday of November.

    Three-hour waits are OK, I suppose, for retirees or those with free/open schedules. But for working people, especially hourly workers, this is a prohibitive burden. Add in, that poorer neighborhoods generally have fewer machines plus recent changes to provisional balloting in places like Florida, and it really starts to smell to high heavens.

    • Completely out-dated in this day and age. The system was invented when everyone was farmers spread out across the country and travel to and from voting stations took three days.

  • Coraline

    I waited 3 hours at Walter Reed and there were NO SNACKS. So I left without voting and had breakfast. That’ll show em.

  • Arlingtonian

    Buckingham precinct: Barrett school. Arrived at 10:45 am. Stood in line for about 2 hours. Voted at 12:30 p.m.

    Only four voting machines. 15-30 minute wait to use machines at 10:45, diminishing to 5 minutes at 12:30. People who did not want to wait for machines could vote by paper ballot, with no line. However, only two poll workers were checking IDs. Therefore, even when voting machines were available or when voters used paper ballots, lines were long.

    During the presidential elections in 2004, the same thing happened at the Buckingham precinct at the same time of day. However, things improved greatly in the the 2008 elections when the wait time was only 10 minutes during the same time period.

    The recurrence of the 2004 debacle in 2012 was inexcusable. I work in Montgomery County. Everyone that I spoke to at work who voted in the County informed me that their waiting time was only 10 minutes, even during the early morning.

    Arlington is supposed to be a “world class” city. However, people probably had to wait longer to vote in Arlington than they had to iwait during recent elections in Baghdad, Iraq, and in Cairo, Egypt. They certainly had to wait longer than did people in Montgomery County, Maryland.

    The people who supervise Arlington’s elections in deserve to be replaced my more competent ones. Unfortunately, citizens can’t vote them out of office, as somebody appoints them to their positions.

    • TJ Community Center

      3 working machines. 2 hour wait this morning.

  • Parking tickets?

    I waited over two hours at Walter Reed. Arrived at 4pm. But the wait time isn’t my complaint because I find it a small price to pay for my privelege to vote. BUT I will be contacting the county about the parking situation there. CHAOS is the only way it can be described, with NO ONE out there directing traffic. Instead Arlington county cops were issuing citations to cars illegally parked (because there were no other options!) instead of trying to direct traffic and organize the chaos. And there were PLENTY of poll workers inside just standing around. Walter Reed polling place was a true emarrassment to the county todAy and I hope someone takes note of it.

  • John Fontain

    I voted this evening just before 6pm in the Clarendon area and was lucky enough to have had only three people ahead of me in line. So a big thank you to all of the folks who absentee voted and got up at the crack of dawn to get your votes in early today.

  • aptsguy

    I got to Key at 645p and 250 people were ahead of me. I got out at 745p.

  • A. Reader

    If the County is correct that there was 1 voting machine for every 220 of the County’s 139,740 registered voters, then there should have been an AVERAGE of 12+ machines operating in each of the 52 voting precincts. Does that strike anyone as even plausibly true? Where are these magical precincts with 18-24 voting machines that balance out all the ones with only 4 or 5 machines?


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